Archive for October, 2008

22
Oct

AI Trading – Not so Intelligent after all?

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We can blame it on the machines…”the machine made me do it” will be the mantra that Gen Z decries when it all goes belly up. Even now the “quants” or quantities analysts are scratching their heads trying to perfect the code in what could be thought of as stock bots, these bots or “algo trading” algorithms are seemingly at the helm of the stock market, buying and selling bytes of pseudo wealth in financial super computer networks. You can read all about how these machines have crippled our nice and cozy growth cycle in the Sydney Morning Herald article, Rise of the machines and also in the New York Times article of the same title; that’s what I’m essentially paraphrasing and it ought to give one a sense of uneasiness and perhaps a queasy feeling in the hip pocket.

Not that I really have an uneasy feeling about machines taking over, I’d be happy to hand it all over to “Skynet” to handle the day to day running of my affairs. Although having said that, the possibility of doom is ever present, as Artificial Intelligence and Technology advances, the progression could eventually ensure that we become obsolete and that the exponential growth in machines intelligence will in affect make our own seem more akin to that of a pest. Our presence in the blink of a binary digit could be deemed superfluous and with the flick of a switch machines may decide to eradicate this “pest” to be left to inherit the Earth; to more or less take over where we left off (they couldn’t do any worse than we have) – I know it’s all so “Matrix” but don’t let that persuade you one way or another. I guess the appeal of the Transhumanists who are ready to embrace technological enhancements by morphing into part machine is to be aligned with this higher being and maybe as a protective measure to side with the machines – to get in before the wholesale eradication of humanity by the God-Machine once it becomes self aware. Laying Terminator/Matrix fantasies aside, I have no objection in principal to improving and enhancing humanity with our own creative enterprises although I’d have to think twice before willingly incorporating technology as part of my physical self. But, then again, whose to say if the opportunity arose I wouldn’t just say “fuck it! let’s tweak that mother fucker.” Like, if you can’t beat em, join em!

We still have a ways to go methinks, considering the dismal results these algorithms have proved in the financial markets. But then again, it could be that the fault wasn’t so much in the coding but the idea of “easy money”. For all I know the codes worked perfectly and it was just greed and downright deceitful manipulation that brought it all undone, because the buck had to stop somewhere and once stopped the dominoes were obligated to fall. Having nowhere else to go, it back tracked along the trail already paved.

It won’t be long before the stakes are upped and perhaps derivatives of these trading algorithms are developed in the human biosphere and certainly it is already happening, however, I think the money markets are more privileged to utilise and develop Artificial Intelligence and advance it at greater speed than academia but that is just my opinion and not based on anything but speculation. Of course the military are keen developers in devising better ways to kill and rule however eventually the trade secrets of the “industrial-military” complex will trickle into the consumer market where the playing field will be further divided. The wealthy will have first dibs at enhancement and a whole new class system will be born. The Nietzschean “over man” will finally become more than doctrine which Nazi’s used as justification for genocide, it will become the reality of the elite and a way to further control the slave job market. What else is new though, as much as we like to think our society as egalitarian or equal it has never been that way and more than likely it never will.

Category : Rants | Blog
14
Oct

Chaos from order?

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You gotta be worried when the Prime Minister is doing his damnedest to keep the economy “strong”¬† and I think times are going to be pretty tight if not hard, very soon. I have this sense of doom invading my psyche and it isn’t just my general neurosis speaking. It goes somewhat deeper than that. I have a premonition that when the going gets tough I’ll cave into a blubbering mess. It’s already difficult enough trying to keep my head above water and if extra struggles are piled on top I’m not sure how I’ll react. I guess I lived through one recession and I can somehow get through another. At the end of the day there isn’t much I can do about the impending doom so it serves no useful purpose in imagining the horrors to come but my mind excels in catastrophic mind games.

Two sides are on every coin and the silver lining on the face of one side of the coin is an appreciation of how good things have been for me to date. If anything, a lesson can be drawn from the economic crash 2008 and that is to always appreciate what you have because it could always be worse and the ethereal “good times” ought to be celebrated more so, if only because they can be short lived. Only time will tell if Capitalism can draw us out of the rut in time to save us from the nonchalant face of hardship.

In some sense the natural state of being is surfacing. From Dionysian excess, the fall back to the nourishing earth to decay for the next regeneration and rebirth. The cycle of decay and rebirth, chaos from order, order from chaos, excited molecules reaching the end of their life to morph into more stable associations. The economy can be no different, how can it escape the natural order anymore than we can?

It’s self evident that we exceeded the confines of Evolutionary Stable Strategy when we started writing blank cheques to the real estate market thinking inflationary theory could be unconstrained and the elasticity was infinite. I guess the people who masterminded the sub-prime scheme benefited but once the yield strength of the elastic band holding it all together started to spring back the tension was more than the rest of the market could contain. So we are just beginning the momentum to perhaps land back further than where we began.

So it is with this imaginary entity that we worship at the alter of the Multi-Plex:

Capitalism has made it this way. Old fashioned fascism will take it away.

The Beautiful People – Marilyn Manson – Antichrist Superstar

And perhaps we will see fascism take it away because if the current President of the United States of America – our esteemed G W Bush, uses his Patriot Act powers to declare a national emergency and extend his Presidency, as the conspiracy theorists claim is within his powers, then we may well see a fascist state incorporating a new capitalist agenda to suit the whims of some madman who is at the helm.

When all is said and done, it is extraordinarily profound, this system we have; when blank cheques can be written to manipulate a market (isn’t that exactly what the sub-prime scheme was about?) and when defaulted mortgages can be bought and sold like they were gold. When trillions of so called value can be wiped in the blink of an eye and yet have no physical currency disappear. When debt is the measure of prosperity and wealth. These things certainly defy logic and then to have Governments prop the economies up with real cash slaps us in the face with indignity.

Is this the society and system that we hold so dear and indeed are willing to lay our lives on the line for? All this anguish so we can wear our Calvin Klein underwear and display the label over pants that are falling off our arses? So we can have our KFC and McDonald’s on every corner block. So we can watch the latest installment of “reality” in an unreal house with Big Brother watching on our 50″ plasma and LCD HDTV’s? So we can be in a constant state of yearning – that happiness is only a sale away. “Capitalism has made it this way”….indeed, prophetic words from a zoid wearing gothic makeup – Go Figure!

Remind me again – What is the definition of insanity?

Category : Rants | Blog
12
Oct

Whew! My savings are safe?

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Well the Government is going to insure our bank balances for a piddley 20 grand. Ha! Well it’s okay for me because being the compulsive spender that I am, my bank balance falls well short of the allotted guarantee. To be honest I am inching towards that amount and it probably leaves me with some assurance that the little savings I do have is reasonably safe. But what reasonably safe means is still no where near clear in these dire times.

When the powers that be, try and instil a message that our banks are safe, is that just empty rhetoric or are our banks immune to the selfish desires that other international banking entities have been devoured by? In my mind, now is the time to be investing in the stock market, when the fear takes a strangle hold of investors then it is time to stock up on the bargain priced shares that they are trying to off load. Of course the risk is greater because one can never be sure if the downturn won’t bankrupt the would be investment but you probably shouldn’t be in the market if you can’t afford to lose.

I’ve been tempted to explore a new strategy and buy some stocks but I have absolutely no idea of what I’m doing in that arena. But it might be fun to see if I can score some easy money if I could pull the winning number out of the hat. But that would be just gambling now wouldn’t it? And gambling is a sinful and decrepit disease is it not? Like so many other behaviours that are founded in the debauchery self indulgence that have become the mainstay for 12 step cult religion.

I will probably play it safe and keep my money in the bank but who knows, perhaps it is no safer than anything else in these uncertain times.

Category : Rants | Blog
7
Oct

Bonus Anyone?

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What I find the most intriguing and down right disturbing thing about the failure of these leading banking organisations and any corporation for that matter, whether they’re failing or not, is that these clowns who call themselves Chief Executive Officers give themselves and their buddies multi million dollar “compensation” payouts. I find it really disheartening and disillusioning that there are really hard working people struggling to get by while these fat cat executives get rich off the paid slavery that you and I perform week in and week out.

To add an extra pinch of insult to our sensibilities, they then use tax havens in secret banking accounts to avoid paying the taxes which fund the infrastructure that they themselves use. No one likes paying taxes and I’m sure we all manipulate the system to some degree but putting millions away in hidden accounts so the tax man is none the wiser is taking greed and manipulation to a whole new level, although I’m sure they would beg to differ. Is it really that hard to at least try and play fair? Maybe that is why I’m a slave and they’re not. Playing by the rules or being Mr Nice Guy isn’t conducive to success on the face of things.

It seems to me that to be rich and powerful one needs to have morals that are somewhat loose in nature and perhaps even have a psychopathic bent to be able to justify the outrageous and obscene behaviours that the “old boys club” characters get up to.

It just doesn’t seem right. But maybe there are no morals in these sorts of things and that it is just me that would like a level playing field. Perhaps it is merely an ideological fantasy that bears no resemblance to reality – the reality is that it really is a dog eat dog world and not just a cynical view I hold from time to time.

Category : Rants | Blog
6
Oct

Word Count

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Word count is one so it says under my Publish Status in WordPress, however I hadn’t typed a word. It caused the catalyst to type these words, words about nothing except a word count and that in itself is merely a pseudo word count because the words themselves are gibberish. Not worth the pixels they are written on. 50. 58. Up they go. Like seconds on a clock. Tick. Tick. Tick. 61. 69. Delay. Enough!

Onto something serious but what? I’m over the credit crunch and the financial crisis. We all know the outcome and it’s depressing. Depression is something I know a little about but it is hardly worth extrapolating into a 2000 word diatribe over. The world will soon embrace the dark eyes of greed, sucking the world dry of its fiscal prowess and we’ll all be hovering around the soup kitchen awaiting our daily bread but even that is not assured.

Although I said I was over the credit crunch my mind keeps returning to it. It’s kind of hard not to be enveloped in its implications when the media keeps the sensation alive. I’m probably alone in my obsession with control, I just can’t relinquish my love of certainty and it’s difficult to make a clear decision with my limited funds without certainty. My fear tells me to withdraw my savings and put it under my mattress because whose to say that all banks aren’t going to collapse with all these fraudulent loans in circulation. I have shares in my superannuation fund but that is money I’m unlikely ever to see anyway. Then when I think about it, if all the banks go under then what does it matter anyway? Money won’t mean a thing and even though I’ve half heartedly commented in previous posts that it is meaningless, I never thought we were all to become acquainted with the worthlessness of the piece of paper it is written on. Once the banks all go bust and all our savings dissipate into the ether then what conclusions are we to draw by this manufactured entity. It’s created from nothing and to whence it shall return.

I’m probably being influenced by Zeitgeist: Addendum that I watched last night but it suits my gloomy outlook on times to come. Whose to say that the movie isn’t a true depiction of the financial system and just because I’m not an expert in economic matters doesn’t mean I can’t be indoctrinated with the best of em. Although the true believers of the system will undoubtedly scoff at such alternative views it sort of clarifies why we are in such a mess. All this time I thought that there was this vault of money in actual existence, but as it turns out there is no vault filled with money, that in truth the money that exists in the system is just a paper trail of loans after loans of credits that in reality don’t exist. It is all created out of thin air at the whim of the reserve. I couldn’t understand why these major banks were going bust but after watching Zeitgeist 2 and being informed of that the monetary system is debt, has clarified the whole dilemma for me.

At least now I’m more initimate with why I’m a slave.

Category : Rants | Blog
4
Oct

All in the family – Part 2

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Back down the coast for the obligatory long weekend family visit and as always the trip down is filled with trepidation and anguish. For the last few days I’ve been cursing myself for promising to pay this visit for the labour day weekend and it loomed heavy; this thought that I was to spend a couple of days back in familiar territory. I’m not usually one to break a promise and on this occasion I didn’t stray from commitment, however¬† I really struggled with the turmoil of not wanting to come and the obligatory nature of “family time”. Almost as a premonition, the struggle I was waging with myself was in some way a sign of times to come.

In the course of a matter of hours, since arriving, all hell has broken loose and the picture was vulgar to say the least. Such are the ways of family and I’ve come to expect as much but I never seem to fully grasp the lesson that such visitations instill. The anguish I face, pretty much every time prior to making this pilgrimage into “family values” is invariably filled with despair and often the clairvoyance of statistical averages fulfills the imagined anguish with a striking uncanniness to experience and reality. But do I heed this “sign” or warning? No. That is the trouble though isn’t it? It isn’t morally acceptable to become estranged from the “family” and even when the whole family affair is bordering on the absurd and comical in some tragic sense, we are still bound by the “virtue” of so called family values.

Human beings are such a comical creature and the gods surely have a laugh at the absurdity of our plight. We suffer and struggle with the self importance of our lives even though at the best we are here for only seventy odd years. The universe continues with its 14 billion year old quest to find some answer to the question of why it exists while the gods reign in the heavens overlooking the absurd comedy of the human condition. Perhaps that is why we are here, for the absolute amusement of the gods, like watching some soap opera as they sit eating cosmic popcorn onlooking the frailty of human relationships as they turn to mire because of some trifling event that in the course of things is meaningless. But from where we sit these “events” define or enact the feelings that we hold so dear to our hearts.

Sort of reminds me of this movie, “Gabriel”, which was about the Archangels descending to purgatory to save the souls of those trapped and to do battle with the forces of evil in this never-never world, which in my opinion had a symbiotic parallel to this world, there was an unnerving likeness to the decadence and misery that lies underneath the surface in this reality. As it turns out they become corrupted, apparently acquiring this new found sense of feeling is a crushing experience and one can imagine that in the seedy world they find themselves in that the depressing sorrows and awareness of hopelessness becomes overwhelming even to the purity and longevity of Angels.

Of course at the end of the show the protagonist, the Archangel Gabriel saves puragtory from darkness and allows the sun to shine the light of righteousness but does this always happen in reality? Does the light always overcome the shadowy world we find ourselves in? Or is the light sometimes extinguished never to shine? Sometimes I wonder whether there is some light at the end of this tunnel of family reunion.

Category : Journal | Blog
1
Oct

Hibernation

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Interesting times are ahead as we stare downwards into the void of the credit crunch whilst biting our finger nails, awaiting fate to roll its wretched dice. It still defies any sort of logic for the uninitiated like myself. How does this sort of thing happen?

By all accounts this bail-out or “rescue plan” is the only course of action to stabilise the market but is it really going to do anything or is it just a vain effort to ward off time before the inevitable crawl takes place? It’s probably the insanity of this beast we have created that the only definition of progress is growth, that the machine we’ve fallen to serving has this insatiable appetite and when it can’t have its fill, it then just goes into hibernation, withering away the source of its energy while it sleeps. As a consequence, we automatically become part of the hibernating cycle because there is no more growth left and perhaps wither away also.

It’s an odd system we have when a slower pace means catastrophe. I guess the pace needs to be in constant acceleration, otherwise we’ll just have too much time to think and wonder “Hey what’s up with this…it doesn’t have to be this way”….or does it? Faster. Faster. Faster….till?

Category : Rants | Blog